MILAN — Vestimenta is updating its image.

In a move to strengthen and modernize the brand, the Italian fashion company known for its sartorial tradition has tapped emerging Italian designer Nicola Del Verme as artistic director.

Del Verme, 40, will handle the women’s and men’s collections and will be the creative force behind Vestimenta’s global image — from its advertising to its retail environment.

"Nicola is certainly the person most adept for this role and his appointment is part of our strategy to renew the image of Vestimenta," said Roberto Zanetto, chief executive of Vestimenta. "[Del Verme’s] creativity, his great knowledge of construction, cut and volume are a perfect match for Vestimenta."

Del Verme arrived on the Italian fashion radar last year when he launched his first women’s collection. Known for his razor-cut jackets, interesting proportions and contemporary style, he won praise from local and international press.

"What I really want to do, what they hired me to do, is to create a definitive identity for the brand that can be seen and felt in both the men’s and women’s collections as well as in store design and ad campaigns," Del Verme said. "I hate to use the word ‘modern’ because it already has lost so much meaning, but I think Vestimenta definitely needs an update."

Del Verme, who has had stints at Trussardi and Loris Abate, will continue to design his signature women’s collection and is planning to launch a men’s line next year. His own line is self-funded and for now, Vestimenta has no plans to invest capital in Del Verme’s collections.

Meanwhile, Zanetto said the company is closer to filling the position of president of Vestimenta USA. The post was vacated when John Wilson left in May.

In the past two years, Vestimenta has had to reevaluate its business strategy following the termination of its longtime production license with Giorgio Armani. Rather than renew his license, Armani formed a joint venture with Vestimenta to produce the men’s and women’s Borgonuovo line, which Vestimenta had been making for Armani since the late Seventies. Of the new entity, Borgo21, Armani controls 60 percent and Vestimenta 40 percent.Besides its own label, which in Europe is sold under the Hilton name, Vestimenta produces the Ungaro women’s collection and controls 50 percent of men’s wear label Piombo. Zanetto said 2002 sales, excluding the Armani joint venture, should reach approximately $75 million, with the Vestimenta label generating one-third of revenue.

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